It says lesser prairie chicken not out of the woods
"Last week it was widely reported that Martinez's administration said the lesser prairie chicken population has stabilized, so there is no need for the bird to receive protection from the federal government. Audubon is not aware of any science that would support the conclusion that LPC populations are stable, particularly in New Mexico," the organization said in a statement Thursday.
Unrelenting drought is having detrimental effects on LPC populations, Audubon said.
"In fact, this year the annual High Plains Prairie Chicken Festival in Milnesand, N.M., was canceled for the first time in its 12-year history," it said.
“The Lesser Prairie-Chicken is not safe, as representatives from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department have publicly stated in the past week,” said Karyn Stockdale, executive director of Audubon New Mexico. “It is time to call attention to the conservation of this bird and its ecosystem."
A grouse found in eastern New Mexico and parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the lesser prairie chicken has been a candidate for federal protection since 1998.
Daniel Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is scheduled to decide by September whether the bird should be listed as a threatened species.